The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Nightingale"

by David E. Sluss

26 November 2000

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: An annoying B-story paired up with an annoying C-story. No A-story in sight.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 6.0 (D-)

MORAL OF THE WEEK: Larry and Icheb are chumps, not that this message needed any additional reinforcing...

RECYCLING OF THE WEEK: Star Trek's set designers have always been really clever and resourceful souls, and Voyager's personnel are usually no exception, but in this case the recycling was just a bit too transparent. The Kraylor vessel was apparently cobbled together from bits of DS9's Defiant set (the doors and a couple of the rooms), one of the later DS9 Runabout sets (parts of the bridge, including one of the consoles), and even Voyager's own sets (especially the quarters in which Seven recuperated after being taken out by an exploding console -- that room _was_ a Voyager crew quarters, with no real attempt to dress up the set at all). Normally, it's not a big deal to have recycled sets for the Forehead Alien ships, since we generally see so little of them. However, in an episode in which the bulk of the screen time takes place aboard the alien vessel, and an episode so uninteresting that viewers might start to look for such things, a little more care should be taken.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER OF THE WEEK: After years of ignoring the fact that Voyager takes a pounding week in and week out and never seems to require maintenance or repairs, the writers have gone a little overboard, with this episode featuring the second major overhaul of the ship in two weeks. In last week's "Body and Soul" a log entry told us that Voyager was getting major maintenance at a local alien space station; here of course, Voyager is overhauled on the ground, propped up on its puny chicken legs.

CONTRIVANCES OF THE WEEK: It's a tough break being a Kraylor officer; unlike being in Starfleet, where the officers are the only ones to survive missions, the Kraylor officers all die. And on the Kraylor vessel, everyone apparently either dies or is totally uninjured, since otherwise the cover story of that Barney Miller guy and his companions being doctors would have been blown almost immediately as they would have been expected to treat any casualties. The biggest contrivance of all is the idea that the Kraylor were doing research off-planet rather than on their heavily shielded homeworld, a plan that necessitated flying the prototype through enemy territory. It doesn't seem like security was the reason for this move, since the Annari found out about it. It also doesn't seem as if limited resources on the Kraylor homeworld was a factor, considering that they managed to duplicate and install cloaking devices on their fleet about five minutes after the prototype arrived. There really doesn't seem to be a very good reason (for this, or for the fact that the Kraylor vessel is detected and fired upon by the Annari while under cloak in the episode's teaser), other than to provide the mechanism by which Larry assumes command of the vessel.

WHITEWASH OF THE WEEK: Voyager took baby steps away from its usual black-and-white view of alien interactions, as Janeway at least paid lip service to the notion of getting both sides of the story. But like some of the name-dropping (Borg rebellion, Voir Dire) that masquerades as continuity on Voyager, it's just not good enough, particularly since Janeway never actually gets the other side of the story. In the end, Larry delivers the ship and gives the Kraylor the ability to evade the Annari blockade. Hooray! But no one ever considers the possibility that there might be a good reason that the Kraylor homeworld is blockaded; perhaps they're infectious to other races, or they prey on other species for resources or reproduction (like Andromeda's Magog), or they're war criminals, or they're smuggling crummy sci-fi programming all over the sector. Larry's (and Voyager's) actions here could have destabilized the whole area, but hey, it's the end of the hour, and Voyager's got places to go.

TECHNOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: Despite the Annari having sensors that can detect human lifesigns on enemy ships, as they point out to Janeway, the Annari who try to tractor-beam the Kraylor ship fail to notice that the vessel has not actually been evacuated and fall victim to Larry's technobabble trick.

TECHNOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: It seems to me that a race that can develop a shield-grid that can protect an entire planet ought to be able to create ships with better shields...

HISTORICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: Voyager has never kept very good track of the number of personnel on the ship, but Larry's comment that "over a dozen" people were killed in "Caretaker" seems like a serious underestimate to me. Granted, any number over twelve is technically "over a dozen," but I got the distinct impression from "Caretaker" that a lot more, including the ones we actually heard about, including the first officer, the engineer, the helmsman, and the entire medical staff, had been killed.

TRANSPORTATIONAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: There's something seriously wrong with Larry's plan, as outlined to Janeway, to take the Kraylor ship back to their homeworld and then come back before Voyager completed repairs, namely that he had planned for no means of getting back!

CHARACTER ASSASSINATION OF THE WEEK: Apparently noticing that they let Icheb begin to escape the bounds of chumphood in "Imperfection," the writers decided to cut the character off at the ... knees this week. Without getting into the gory details, I'll just say that the Icheb/Torres material was simply idiotic, embarrassing, and agonizing to watch; even the worst sitcoms would stay away from that kind of material.
  

Previous: "Body and Soul"
Next: "Flesh and Blood"
NEXT WEEK: "The Killing Game" Parts 3 and 4.

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This review is copyright 2000 David E. Sluss
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